We keep hearing the word “Festivalization” when it comes to exhibitions. Chet Burchett, Reed, at the recent UFI Global Congress said our focus should be about delivering a solid business experience more than offering fun with our events. I think we can deliver an enhanced experience by combining the two in a thoughtful, creative way.
Written by Stephanie Selesnick, President of International Trade Information, Inc.
Festivalization is a term coined to describe making b2b events more fun and experiential – similar to what music, food and beverage, and fan festivals offer. It doesn’t literally mean bringing in rides or DJ’s onto the show floor (which is fine if it works with your industry or demographic).
What if we go back to what festivalization adoption looks like. All b2b events should offer multidisciplinary programming, immersive environments, and seamless experiences. Let’s go through each one and hopefully shed light on what your organization may do to add modern, meaningful, interactive experiences to your exhibitions.
One important note: most festivals (including the huge music ones) don’t offer the same exact experience for all attendees, and neither should you! Some experiences are meant to be for the masses, others for small, intimate groups (newbies, or new market segments?), and still others VIP’s.
Multidisciplinary Programming – this is a fancy way of saying exhibitions should offer different educational tracks in a variety of ways. In the US, where over 60% of exhibitions are owned by NGO’s (Associations), education and recertification for professional designations are a key component of annual exhibitions. Please do not separate out tracks using the terms beginners, manager and executive levels – no professional wants to be seen in any beginner session – especially if they are over 40. Get creative with descriptions. This will all dovetail nicely when personalizing the educational offerings in your attendee promotion.
Hold the mix of programming between the show floor and traditional breakout rooms. Include a variety of sessions besides panel discussions. Go for interactive workshops with experienced facilitators or even a hackathon to solve industry challenges.
Immersive Environments – are any of your exhibitors using VR (virtual reality) or AR (augmented reality)? How can your show highlight or incorporate these experiences? Can you put a factory or supply chain together on the show floor?
Here’s another idea – instead of boring lounges, why not put together Instagram worthy backdrops and props? Designate an area where attendees can take a break from the show floor, on the show floor. It shouldn’t be just a place to sit. It should be interactive. This may also be the place for a DJ. Photo and virtual karaoke booths also work in a pinch. Don’t forget to include your exhibition’s hashtag. It won’t only be used by millennials.
Seamless Experiences – be consistent. Use humor, but don’t dilute or devalue your Brand, and do bring it up to the 21st century. Use graphics for your show in such a way that attendees, exhibitors and sponsors know they are in Pizza World, or whatever industry your show serves.
Ask your team what their favorite parts of attending any live events are – and how could those experiences be modified to jazz up your exhibition. Then use some. Let us know the results!